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Ukrainian Prisoner of War Exchange September 9, 2019

Posted by bohdan.warchomij in : Metaphor Online , trackback

Ukraine and  Russia have exchanged dozens of prisoners, releasing 35 prisoners each.

Planes carrying freed Russian and Ukrainian prisoners landed at Moscow’s Vnukovo and Kiev’s Boryspil airports on Saturday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed the exchange as the first step towards ending the war in Ukraine’s east and returning territory annexed by Moscow.

“We have taken the first step,” he said after greeting the former prisoners at the airport in Ukraine’s capital, Kiev.

“We have to take all the steps to finish this horrible war,” he said, pledging to also return “our territory”.

The exchange, the first since 2017, took place after lengthy negotiations.

Those released by Russia include all 24 Ukrainian sailors who were captured in November last year in the Sea of Azov, as well as Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, who was convicted of plotting ”terrorist” acts. He had denied the charges.

Controversy surrounds the exchange of Volodymyr Tsemakh.

He is believed to have been a commander of air defences at Snizhne in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, one of the Russian-backed rebel areas in eastern Ukraine.

Snizhne is close to where investigators say the missile which shot down the Malaysian Airlines plane in 2014 was fired.

A team of international criminal investigators said in 2016 that the missile had been brought from Russia and fired from a field controlled by Russian-backed separatists.

In a daring operation in June, Ukrainian special forces reportedly smuggled Mr Tsemakh out of rebel-held territory, and he had been due to stand trial in October.

Although he is not a suspect, international prosecutors have said they would like him to remain in Ukraine so they can ask him further questions.

Last week, they urged the authorities in Ukraine not to allow him to travel to Russia.

However, in a court decision on Wednesday he was released from custody.

The Dutch government said it was disappointed with the Ukrainian decision to send him to Russia.

Meanwhile in the Donetsk war zone Russian forces continue to engage the Ukrainian military.


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